Breathing is typically considered an involuntary action. The body does not have control over the rate at which we breathe and we barely pay attention to this aspect of our life. An individual leading a sedentary life can take anywhere between 17,000 and 30,000 breaths per day. For active people, this number can be even higher. But, do you ever pay attention to the inhaling and exhaling of air?
Mindful breathing is a state of focusing on one’s breathing. This involves concentrating on each breath as you inhale and exhale air. While the process seems simple, it can take a while for a person to be able to do so for a long stretch of time.
- Mindful breathing is considered a form of yoga and meditation. It has numerous benefits for our physical and mental well-being. It is also a great stress relieving technique. Mindful breathing also helps improve brain functioning and can slow down the rate of cognitive decline.
- When a person controls their breathing and regulates it, the amount of the stress hormone called Noradrenaline produced is controlled. This is because Noradrenaline is produced by the same site involved in breathing.
- Noradrenaline is a stress hormone responsible for the dilation of the pupils and increased heart rate during stressful events. When present in the correct amount, this helps create new connections within the brain. If the hormone is present in excessive amounts, the brain loses its ability to focus and becomes very excitable. On the other hand, if it is present in low amount, it can make the person feel sluggish and again have a negative impact on their ability to focus on any task. Thus by practicing mindful breathing, one can improve their concentration span and memory.
- Mindful breathing also helps the brain stay young.
By regulating breathing through techniques such as pranayama, the individual can experience a change in attention and emotional control over oneself. This keeps the mind steady. As a person ages, brain mass reduces. However, by creating new connections, this loss is balanced out and the risk of cognitive disorders such as dementia is reduced. This helps keep the mind agile even in old age. For this reason, mindful breathing is also looked at as a possible form of treatment for patients suffering from attention deficit disorder.
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